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7/15: Fall 2020 On-Campus Housing Update

August 5, 2020, Update: In response to changing COVID-19 health and safety conditions and guidance, fall classes will be held primarily online. Plans to bring students back to campus have been suspended. Read the latest campus messages from the President and SCU’s leadership team.

The following message was emailed to undergraduate students and families on July 15, 2020.

Dear Santa Clara University Students and Families,

We hope that you and your loved ones continue to be safe and healthy during this very challenging summer. We have been spending these months carefully planning to welcome students back to campus and to our upcoming academic year. We greatly appreciate the patience you have shown awaiting all-important details about what this highly unusual year will look like. This communication is intended to share the changes to fall 2020 on-campus housing availability, capacity, dining, and residential life that have been necessitated by the county and state orders and other factors related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While no one would have wished for the modifications that we must undergo, please know we are excited to welcome our students back, whether they will reside on campus, in nearby off-campus housing, or at their permanent residences. Our aim is to preserve as much of our prized community, student support, and Bronco spirit as possible, given the realities of this time.  

These realities do include, unfortunately,  the recent surge of COVID-19 in many parts of California (resulting in many universities going fully online) as well as the actions of Gov. Newsom to roll back the state’s broader reopening plan. While we have the benefit of some time due to our undergraduate quarter system and a start date in late September, we are mindful that conditions are rapidly changing and data and guidelines are still in flux. We will continue to closely monitor and work with our local Santa Clara County Public Health officials, and adjust and adapt plans to prioritize everyone’s safety. We realize families need to make plans and we ask for everyone’s flexibility, as further updates to our University’s fall plans are inevitable. We will continue to provide timely updates during this dynamic time.

Hybrid Learning Environment

Since we know that students’ housing decisions could be impacted by the format for instruction in the fall, we remind students of our June 25 Prepared SCU: Teaching and Learning plan for our undergraduate program. As noted, students can expect to be in a hybrid learning environment across all of our academic programs in the fall. We anticipate that between 60 and 70 percent of undergraduate courses will be offered entirely online. Revised course descriptions will indicate whether the course will be offered: 1) in-person or online, 2) synchronously (in real time) or asynchronously. 

By mid-August, undergraduate students will receive detailed information about the dates and process to make any registration changes, including add, drop, or swap. Students will have the opportunity to align their course schedules with their individual needs. Our plans may change in the future, based on updated state and county public health guidelines. Please email the Office of the Registrar with any questions about courses and registration. 

On-campus Housing Update

The residential experience for students living on campus will look different than in past years, as we navigate a “new normal” during this pandemic and adjust our plans based upon the latest guidance from state and county public health officials. To promote a safer residential environment, we will reduce fall 2020 housing occupancy to 70% of normal capacity and implement single-occupancy housing accommodations in residence halls, University Villas, and neighborhood units. In addition, we have reserved a residential facility and some University-owned properties for quarantine or isolation purposes, should we have students who test positive or have close-contact exposure to COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, with this reduced occupancy, we can no longer accommodate every student who applied to live on campus in the fall. Please know this was indeed a very difficult decision, based on the latest guidance and requirements from our state and local health officials. The health and safety of our Santa Clara family continues to be the highest priority in the midst of the pandemic.  

On-campus housing for the approximately 2,200 available single-occupancy spaces will be assigned as follows:

  • International students
  • First-year students
  • Pell Grant-eligible students
  • LEAD Scholars
  • NCAA student-athletes
  • Returning sophomores, juniors and seniors whose permanent residence is greater than 20 miles from campus, based on lottery
  • Returning sophomores, juniors and seniors whose permanent residence is 20 miles or less from campus, based on lottery

Students who had previously applied for housing will NOT have to re-apply. In the coming days, the Housing Office will email these students with additional information and instructions to confirm their continued interest in University housing for fall 2020. Students should keep an eye out for this communication and confirm their continued interest by July 23, 2020. The Housing  Office will notify students of their placement in mid-August.  Those who confirm their continued desire for housing will have their prepayment deposits of $450 (currently shown as a credit in their student account) credited against their fall room & board charges.

Students who opt not to pursue University housing, or who do not confirm their continued interest in fall 2020 housing by July 23, 2020, will have their existing housing contract canceled without penalty and their prepayment deposit of $450 refunded.

Thanksgiving Break and Closure of Residence Halls

As previously announced, students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving, but instead will take Week 10 classes and finals remotely. This will help to reduce both the risks associated with travel during flu season as well as exposure of our community to COVID-19. With the exception of the University Villas and neighborhood units, the residence halls will close at 9 p.m. on November 21 and will not reopen until January 3, 2021. While students are required to vacate their assigned space by the 9 p.m. deadline on November 21, students may leave their belongings behind. 

Room and Board Rates

To account for the shortened time on-campus, we are developing a reduced fall room and board rate structure that will apply to most students in residence. Most students (with some exceptions for certain undergraduate and graduate housing locations) will be charged the standard double rate even though they will be in single accommodations. In addition, those rates will be prorated to factor in the early Thanksgiving departure.

On-Campus Living Expectations

All students living on campus are expected to comply with personal safety measures. Students will be expected to:

  • Track symptoms daily using an online symptom tracker;
  • Maintain at least 6 ft distance between themselves and others at all times;
  • Wear a face covering any time they are outside of their living units, including while in hallways and common areas;
  • Wear a face covering at all times while using communal restrooms, unless showering;
  • Conduct personal hygiene, including tooth brushing, frequent hand washing, and face washing, at individual room sinks;
  • Abide by reduced-density occupancy limits in communal spaces, including lounges, study rooms, and kitchens; and
  • Abide by posted occupancy limits in elevators.

In addition, social distancing will impact community life in the following ways:

  • Student access will be limited to their residence hall. Students will not be permitted to enter other residence halls.
  • Students are prohibited from hosting guests, including other SCU students, family, and off-campus friends, in their living units or residence halls.
  • The majority of community life, including programs and events, will be conducted virtually.
  • Meetings with Residence Life professional and student staff, and other staff will be conducted virtually.

Through these virtual mediums, staff will continue to be available to support, provide opportunities to connect, and help students adjust to this new environment, particularly for our newest Broncos. 

Alternative Housing Options

Students who do not receive a housing assignment for fall 2020 should consider remaining at their permanent residence for the term and utilizing the remote learning options from home.  Students for whom this is not an option can visit the housing website for nearby local housing and long-term hotel accommodation options. Students who reside near campus in non-SCU housing are still required to adhere to all University, county, and state regulations related to management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Housing Update and FAQs

We realize that you will have questions as students and families plan for the upcoming academic year. To this end, we invite you to carefully review the updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the SCU Housing website for additional information. This FAQ document includes topics related to housing assignments and timelines, housing rates, move-in/move-out process, cleaning protocols, and daily life in the residence halls. For additional questions, please email  


As of this writing, indoor dining is not allowed in Santa Clara County, including at Santa Clara University. Dining services will be centralized in the Benson Memorial Center with all orders being managed via a mobile-ordering app. Food will be available from Bon Appétit in to-go compostable containers. Outdoor dining will be available on a limited-capacity basis, and diners will be required to adhere to social distancing requirements there and throughout campus.

Additional Information  

Our plan to return to campus includes many additional safety protocols including a required daily symptom tracker, increased cleaning and sanitization, testing, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols. We will provide more details in August. Please visit Prepared SCU: Plan for Fall 2020 and the Santa Clara County Public Health website for the latest updates and information.

For additional information and details about on-campus housing and dining, please read the fall 2020 Housing and Dining FAQ. Questions about housing and dining should be directed to For general questions, please email

In closing, this fall will be an entirely different experience for all of us. Amidst these trying and uncertain times, know that our commitment to care for our students remains paramount. However our students will be learning—remotely or in person— and wherever they will be based as we all navigate this extraordinary year, our goal is to help keep everyone safe and supported.

Stay safe this summer,

Lisa Kloppenberg
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Robin Reynolds
Associate Vice President, Auxiliary Services

Jeanne Rosenberger
Vice Provost for Student Life